hen I first started attending comic conventions, it was at first with a bit of incredulity (at being there) and skepticism (at the things themselves). Then fascination quickly took over – there was so much talent to behold. Once I got over the overwhelming creativity flowing out of such humble people, I started analyzing the creators more. Superheroes are often very “American” Caucasian or hot babes or fantastical figments of imaginations.
I don’t know why I was surprised that so many Asian Americans were in the American graphic novel scene. I also shouldn’t have been surprised that for all the contributions they made to the editing, illustrating, and conceptualizing of the characters and worlds we love, Asian Americans largely go unrecognized. It’s the nature of the beast: Minority comics are minority comics and get pushed with a minority of big publishers’ focus.
This is precisely why I’m proud to see Asian Americans owning their own original stories (from storyboard to publishing!) for the second round of SIUniverse Media’s ground-breaking AA anthologies: Shattered. You might remember my excitement when SIUniverse published Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology a year and a half ago. Now Shattered’s coming in to further define the Asian perspective on diasporic heroes. And science fiction, horror, and suspense.
It’s only just been released, but Shattered has already been listed in iO9’s roundup of “Graphic Novels That Even Non-Comics Fans Will Love to Read.” (That Title Casing is making my head hurt.) Shattered brings in the hands that draw Wonder Woman (Cliff Chiang), G.I. Joe (Larry Hama), and The Hulk (Greg Pak). I want to see more work by this artist, Alice Meichi Li:
With a release like this, I personally feel like shaking someone’s hand just to send them tangible accolades for making something so affirming. Conveniently, SIUniverse has in-person tour events in mind. Editor in Chief Jeff Yang has curated an exhibition chronicling the Asian Image in U.S. comics from the 40s to the late 60s. (I dunno if you took Japanese Americans and Concentration Camps in college, but I get the strong feeling that the depiction of Asians in comics in the 40s weren’t so golden.) Given how little we are taught in American high school history, why wouldn’t you want to explore American sentiments through the lens of comic art? What an opportunity for perspective.
I’m also particularly interested in the stereotype kiosks the SIUniverse team dissected:
- Brute: Gangsters, martial artists, henchmen
- Brain: Ancient wise men, maladroit nerds, overachieving whiz kids
- Temptress: Kelly Hu – I’m kidding – sensual femme fatales
- Alien: Perpetual foreigners, anything unassimilable
- Manipulators: Puppet masters, conspirators
I hope a school or cultural center near me books a Shattered event. If you’re interested in planning one, go here, and then gimme the 411 because I will totally be there!